Future watch

Breathalyser trial for cancer diagnosis

January 3, 2019

Researchers at The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre have launched a clinical trial to evaluate diagnostics company Owlstone Medical’s breath test for the detection of various cancer types.

Based on Owlstone’s Breath Biopsy technology, the test is designed to analyse odorous molecules called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in order to identify the presence of cancer in breath samples. It is expected to enable non-invasive diagnosis of cancer at an early stage.

In the clinical trial, patients will breathe into the device for ten minutes to collect a sample, which will then be processed by the company’s laboratory. 1,500 people will be recruited for the two-year trial, including healthy volunteers and people suspected to have cancer at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre lead trial investigator Rebecca Fitzgerald said:

“We urgently need to develop new tools, like this breath test, which could help to detect and diagnose cancer earlier, giving patients the best chance of surviving their disease.

“Through this clinical trial we hope to find signatures in breath needed to detect cancers earlier – it’s the crucial next step in developing this technology. Owlstone Medical’s Breath Biopsy technology is the first to test across multiple cancer types, potentially paving the way for a universal breath test.”

Owlstone Medical co-founder and CEO Billy Boyle commented:

“There is increasing potential for breath-based tests to aid diagnosis, sitting alongside blood and urine tests in an effort to help doctors detect and treat disease.

“Our technology has proven to be extremely effective at detecting VOCs in the breath, and we are proud to be working with Cancer Research UK as we look to apply it towards the incredibly important area of detecting early-stage disease in a range of cancers in patients.”

by Editor